3 Keys to Optimizing the Patient Experience

3 Keys to Optimizing the Patient Experience
Marketing Director

The patient experience increasingly matters for healthcare organizations. Harvard Business Review says that upwards of 60% of healthcare spending can be directly influenced by active patient choices. This means optimizing the patient experience is critical for your organization’s success. But what exactly does that look like?

“Patients more than anything value empathy and efficiency in healthcare,” says Ted Chan, founder and CEO of CareDash. “They want to know that their time is valued and also that the providers care for them.”

Here are three ways HR can help optimize the patient experience at your healthcare organization.

Put Values First: Hire Service-Minded People

The patient experience should always come first and that should be communicated from the beginning of the hiring process. Before they even apply, have candidates read and acknowledge a values statement. This shows that your organization prioritizes candidates who practice with understanding and empathy.

Once they get to the interview process, ask behavior-based questions. “Don’t ask ‘What would you do if …’ questions,” says Kristin Baird, Patient Experience Expert at Baird Group. “Instead ask questions about how the candidate handled specific scenarios, like working with a difficult patient.” The first question leaves room for biasing an answer, while the second offers clues on how a candidate is likely to react when in front of a patient.

Customize the Hiring Process

Each role at a healthcare organization involves different real-life experiences, and the hiring process should reflect that. Baird suggests customizing the interview process to reflect the skills each position will need in daily practice and emphasizing how the patient is involved and expects to be treated.

For example, if one position involves handling phones — and phone contact often is the first experience a patient has with a healthcare organization — consider conducting those interviews over the phone first. This gives you a better picture of how the candidate will function once hired. “At the end of the day, healthcare is a service business,” Chan says. “Well-chosen, motivated and happy staff members are an essential part of the patient experience and operational efficiency of a practice or health system.”

Teach Managers to Stay Accountable

Professional development opportunities help ensure that employees stay service-minded. Managers are the first line of defense in gatekeeping values, so they should be trained in mentoring and managing. Not everyone promoted to manager has the innate management skills they need, but HR can fill in the gap by offering mentoring and professional development.

“You have to clarify your expectations and then hold everybody accountable to that standard,” Baird says. “The HR function there is making sure the managers, first of all, want to be managers and are willing to and capable of holding people accountable. Second, HR must ensure that managers have the ability to clearly communicate their expectations.” Training managers in this way ensures a consistent message that values the patient experience.

Patient experience is at the core of healthcare. Healthcare organizations want to improve patient outcomes and their bottom line by optimizing the patient experience, and they can do this by focusing on implementing service-focused hiring practices and empowering managers to provide the highest quality patient care.